Who would think that Egypt would be safer for Joseph, Mary, and Jesus than Bethlehem. But yet, it was. That was the place that God sent Joseph and his family to keep them away from Herod. We find this story in the Gospel of Mathew: “When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”Matthew 2:13.”
Egypt was never the biggest and better ally of Israel. Most of the time it was the opposite. They were the enemy. If that is true, then why did God send Joseph and his family there? I really do not believe that it was just to fulfill the prophesy. That was important too, but there are other reasons that sometimes we need to pay attention to. There are times in our lives that we are safer among our enemies than in the midst of our own brothers and sisters. Sometimes the situation at home, in your church, in your city, in your country is so chaotic that the best option is to go to a place where you expect opposition or you expect to be unwelcome.
The Bible is full of stories like this. Jesus told the story of Elijah to exemplify this principle. Here is the text: “I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. Luke 4:25-26.” That was a place where the prophet would be safe from the king and his wife.
When the church suffered her first major persecution under the leadership of Saul, with the exception of the apostles, all the brothers and sisters scattered. Here is the text: “And Saul was there, giving approval to his death. On that day a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria. Acts 8:1.” The interesting part is that some of them went to Samaria, a place that was off-limits for the Jews. The Samaritans were despised by the Jews and some considered them enemies. But for those brothers and sisters, Samaria was the best place at that time.
We can see this story being repeated in the lives of Jacob, Moses, and many others in the Bible. The question is why? Why would God lead them to enemy territory? For Joseph, Mary, and baby Jesus, the answer is simple. In Egypt, even though a foreign country, they would not be found by Herod the Great. Secondly, that was place where their immediate enemy would not look for them. Herod concentrated his efforts around Bethlehem, thinking that the family was still in that area. Finally they were guided to Egypt because it was a place where they could be treated better than in their own home.
The story of Joseph, Mary and Jesus is like many stories of immigrants all over the world. They can be safer, live better, and be treated with more dignity in a foreign country than in their own homelands.
Have a blessed week,